Sam Odhiambo is the head of Consumer Electronics Division at Samsung Electronics East Africa. He has studied marketing and holds a masters in strategic management. He represents 15 countries within the wider Eastern African region. Mr Odhiambo has worked at the company’s headquarters in Seoul, South Korea and in Nairobi. But what does it feel like to work at a Big Tech company? He speaks to Diana Mutheu
1. What does a day in your life look like?
There is what I would wish my typical day to be and also what the business demands turn out to be each day. Nevertheless, my typical day starts around 6 am and ends at about 6 pm. It starts with calls, chats and team virtual meetings from the different East African countries followed by meetings with the local teams. Afternoons are ideally for trade and market visits where we try to go around the market to engage with the different Samsung partners and their stores. We also walk around to see what the competition is doing and gather consumer feedback on our products. On other days, I travel to the different markets within the region, no day is the same but given the chance, I wouldn’t do it any other way.
2. When did you join Samsung Electronics?
I joined Samsung soon after completing my university studies, nearly fifteen years ago. Samsung was just setting up an office in Kenya and they went out to different Kenyan universities looking for high-performing students that they can take back to Korea for training. I happened to be one of the students. I went through a rigorous training programme in Korea for about one year and landed an opportunity to work at the Samsung head office in Korea for one year. A year later I came back to Kenya and started working at Samsung. So I have grown from a trainee to the head of the department.
3. Why did you join Samsung? Did anything inspire you?
I did not plan to join Samsung. The opportunity came and I thought that I should try it out. However, over the years my love for technology has grown and I enjoy my job. So I can proudly say that it was a good move.
4. What is the best part of working with Samsung?
Samsung products are categorized as fast-moving goods and with this, no day is the same. I like the versatility and the opportunity to interact with different people from different cultures. I also love interacting with the technology that Samsung is constantly churning out. I would say my experience has been great. Working with a multinational company like Samsung is both rewarding and very eye-opening and presents different opportunities to interact with all types of people from different cultures. It also presents challenges and opportunities to be creative. The ever-constant pressure to be ahead of the game keeps anyone very involved.
5. How is the career growth with Samsung?
When in university, I had planned to go into banking. However, when the opportunity to join Samsung came knocking, I took it and started from the bottom as a management trainee and now I head the Consumer electronics department representing 15 countries, with team members spread across the key markets within the region.
6. How have you managed to work with Samsung for all these years and what does it take?
The technology industry is very demanding and one must be able to keep up with the latest technology as well as understand what is being produced and how to sell it to the customers. A case point is that we have recently launched the 2022 Neo QLED TV. My position requires me to completely understand the new technology as well as how to position it in this market to achieve sales targets.
In addition to this, I also believe in giving everything I do my best. So I can say that I have stayed and grown in Samsung because of giving my best, as well as my work ethic. It takes commitment and consistency to ensure that targets are met every time. People skills are also important because you need to relate well with the employers, the team that works with you, stakeholders as well as customers.
7. What is your greatest achievement in your role as head of the Consumer Electronics division?
I have two achievements that I am proud of. The first one was my role during the Government led Digital migration. I understood what the Government was trying to achieve and transferred that information to our tech development team in the factory, the result of this was Samsung being the first TV manufacturer to get approval from Communication Authority to distribute digital TV’s in Kenya.
The second one has been my role in growing and maintaining the TV market in the greater East African region. Samsung has been voted the best TV globally for the last 16 years and I have been part of that and it makes me proud. We are currently pushing our home appliances range to be able to take a similar position within the regional market.
8. How have you been able to beat monotony? Tell us your tricks.
In the electronics industry, no day is the same. However, some tasks can be monotonous, for instance; report generation. Approaching such tasks with a positive attitude has aided me. One understands that you have to go through the whole process for a project to be successful.
9. Do you intend to work with Samsung till you retire?
So far so good. Samsung is a good employer and I have no complaints. So the answer is yes. I have grown in different roles over the years and I believe that I will continue to grow. There is however new and young talent being churned all around. I may have to create space when that need arises someday in the future. Let’s wait and see.
10. Advice to young people who change jobs now and then?
My advice is to be patient and to give whatever role they are in their very best and they will see the results. Rome was not built in a day. Work hard, it has never killed anyone, and trust the process it all comes together eventually.